Advice

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Here Are Some Tips on Having a Less Crappy CPA Exam Experience at Prometric From a (Probably Legit) Prometric Employee

A short while back, one brave soul (ThrowAway20112348) presented themselves as a Prometric employee on Reddit and shared some insight, tips, and rules for U.S. testing centers. The universe thanks you, friend to CPA exam candidates. Now, I’d like to share the love by recapping their message from the great testing center beyond. In their […]

Be Social, Don’t Skip the Party, and Other Redundant Holiday Party Advice

Yes, it’s that time of year. And apparently some of you need to hear this stuff because people who are paid to write about it (not me) continue to write about it.

This Advice From an EY Leader Should Not Be Taken Literally

Partners, CEOs and chairmen are great for all kinds of wonderful advice — por ejemplo: "be who you really are" — but sometimes the line between good advice and too soon bro is easily crossed. Case in point: "From day one, focus on the relationships you make. Get in there. Be aggressive." #EY's Bob Patton, […]

Accounting Career Conundrums: Put Down the Pot or Take a Gamble on Another Offer?

Sometimes I feel like I don't know. Sometimes I feel like checkin' out. I want to get it wrong. Can't always be strong. And love it won't be long… call us Ultraviolet, we're here to light your way. If you have a career question, life question, ethics question and/or dumb question for us, go ahead […]

Guy Who Couldn’t Hack Two Years in Public Accounting Needs Validation He Isn’t a Loser

Normally I wouldn't post a question like this, mainly because I have absolutely no idea what he's even asking us. Should he leave? How the hell do we know? Going Concern, Public accounting isn't for me, and am 90% certain im leaving at the end of february (gonna gut out year end just so I […]

The Easiest Solution To a Common Cube Dweller Problem

Need some help? Just need to vent? Want to discuss whether your business card is ecru or eggshell? Give us a shout, we might be motivated to help you. Hey GC Busy season is just getting rolling,  but I've got a loud problem on my hands. A manager (not on my team) has a cube […]

This Year, Resolve to Finally Decide What You Want To Be When You Grow Up in Public Accounting

As best I can tell, GC brought me on board for five reasons:   Sex appeal. Sex appeal. Sex appeal. Tax knowledge. Partner experience. The first four are self-explanatory. As for the last one, Caleb and Adrienne seem to think that I might have words of wisdom to share with the unwashed masses because I’ve […]

Future CPA Seeking the Best CPA Review Course Someone Else’s Money Can Buy

Ed. note: today, Amber tackles a question we've gotten no less than 1000 times. Our answer is always the same: we can't tell you which review course is "best" (both due to my obvious conflict of interest having earned my shill stripes in CPA review and to the fact that only you know what will […]

Accountants: Tell Us Your Busy Season Problems

As many professionals embark on the tumultuous journey that are the busy season months of January, February, March, and April, it is inevitable that known and unknown problems will arise. Some of these are client-initiated and others are co-worker-initiated. Some of them are simple problems; some of them are complex problems. Some involve food odor; some […]

Yes Auditors, It Is Possible to Explain Your Job Without Scaring People Away

Once again we dig into the ol' mailbag to answer a question that has plagued one of your fellow capital market servant colleagues. If you have questions on anything from appropriate footwear to choosing the right tickmark from the supply room to handling awkward sexual advances by a coworker, email us. Dear GC:   In […]

Free Advice for PwC’s Social Media Department

I have some concerns about PwC's social media practices. These concerns go way back, long before they followed and then unfollowed me on Twitter (pfft, I'm used to it) and it appears as though no one on the PwC social media team has had the guts to bring it up so I'm going to go […]

Accounting Airman Called, You Answered

I’m not saying it never happens; the best is when one of you makes me laugh so hard I spray Racer 5 from my nose.

But better than that, when a bunch of you come together to help someone trying to break into the industry.

Some may take issue with the self-regulation of the accounting industry: its glass ceilings, elusive “work-life” balance, sexism, narcissism and general malfeasance. “Big 4 isn’t rocket science,” the comments read. Right. I don’t think anyone here would argue that it is but there is a sense of having earned one’s position in the glass ceilinged, work-life fucked, sexist, narcissistic sludge puddle.

That said, I feel like most of the regular readers of this site have of what works and what doesn’t. When I see someone get slaughtered in the comment section, first I laugh, then I think about what would prompt a majority of you to descend on this person like a pack of rabid pit bulls. This happens more often than not but I can’t help but think you all do this out of love and affection for your industry. Right.

Every now and then, you impress me. Sometimes it’s really subtle, like someone giving someone else a reality smackdown without making them cry. Other times, it’s an obvious rallying together to help a really useful individual thrive in this industry.

When DWB tried to give this 10 year military veteran some advice on breaking into public, he offered personalized assistance in pursuing this. No one called the guy old, made dick jokes, or said “I’d hit it.” Instead, he got advice like “Do a little reading on consulting careers at places like Bain, McKinsey, Boston Consulting, etc. Pay makes Big4 look like peanuts, and exit opportunities are way better (McKinsey is referred to as a CEO factory). Or, if your interest is finance, you can look at investment banking, private equity, asset management, etc. In the long run, all of those pay multiples of what public accounting does.”

Then the OP chimes in:

Hi everyone… original poster here. Thanks so much for the feedback! One thing I should note: I recently (as in 2 weeks ago) finished my BSAcc, so the 15 years out of school thing is not an issue. I have IFRS and SOX accounting training. I am fresh off of the degree and looking for more. Hope this helps with the feedback.

As far as the top 7 MBA program comments: thank you so much for the encouragement, but the primary setback to those options is the fact that I must find a job that pays similar to support my family, and I am not sure that I can make a move to one of those areas. Should I look into sacrificing some pay early on and make a stab for top 7 MBA? (I currently make about $50k per year, and dipping much below that could strain the family as my wife has not worked in years and may have trouble stepping into the door as a medical assistant). I also prefer the flexibility of online programs. I was curious: with programs like FSU doing online degrees, is this a viable option, or am I better off with brick and mortar? Also, is it even possible to get a 1 year MAcc from a big name university with my credentials? If so, where would I want to start looking? I am open to either an MBA (most like finance focused) or a MAcc, and I definitely prefer a prestigious college.

This forum has been wonderful and I appreciate everyone’s feedback and the support you show for the military. You are really a set of class act people!

Fuck. IFRS and SOX. My thought here is that you guys recognize talent when you see it, which I don’t think counts as narcissism when you recognize it in someone else. This person could be a real asset to the profession and it’s endearing to see you all try to help him make the most of that. Instead of hating on him. Or talking shit about the school he went to.

Apparently he didn’t see the “military to b4 eh? heres a tip…remove stick from ass, then insert much larger stick” comment or maybe he found that useful too. Anyway, he follows up later:

Hi everyone! Accounting Airman here again! I wanted to let you know that I am processing the wealth of information that has been provided to me. I have received several direct contacts and also the posts here. I am out of town for the next few days on military related duty, so I may be slow in responding to everyone. I will get my resume out to those who requested (assuming you have a proper e-mail account) when I return.

Thanks again for all of the support and direction. I am amazed and honored by the responses.

v/r

Accounting Airman

I don’t expect to see this often and frankly am glad I don’t but good job. It’s rare that I’m not ashamed to be associated with this website and, subsequently, a lot of you. I’m sure that’s mutual.

Well done. If the partners had any doubt about your collective abilities to pull this shit off, I hope a performance like this encourages them to show a little faith in you assholes. I have it after this.

Big 4 Wanna-Be with Displaced Apostrophe Disorder Wants to Make the Jump From a Regional Firm

Ed. note: Welcome to the final edition of Decide My Life For Me for this week. Thanks to all of you for keeping the shenanigans to a minimum while I attempted to fill Caleb’s comically large shoes (come on ladies, you know what they say about a man with big feet…) as editor this week. I will still be running the show for the first half of next week so if you have a question for me, DWB, Caleb or the homeless guy I let be my “Associate Editor” in exchange for cigarettes and half-eaten sandwiches, get in touch. Have a great weekend.

Dear Going Concern,

I am a third year auditor at a regional accounting firm. I was recently contacted by one of the Big 4 and decided to interview with them. Two days later, they called and gave me an offer. I told them I would think about it and get back to them. Well, here is my dilemma. I am very well respected at my firm and was awarded a mid-year bump in salary due to my outstanding performance. The partner’s [sic] at the regional firm tell me that I have a great future at the firm. However, it has always been my goal to work for the Big 4 and I finally have my opportunity. As far as compensation goes, the Big 4 company is bringing me in at roughly $7k more than I make now. The question is, should I continue to work for the regional firm where I know I have potential and respect, or should I go into the light and work for the Big 4?

Sincerely,
Dazed and Confused


Dear D&C,
Here’s a baseball story for you.

Essentially, you’ve been playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates for the past three years. You have a small (but dedicated!) fan base, a decent stadium, and food court options that – depending on the season – are the reason fans even come to games. Your coaches are “good, not great,” which is basically a phrase that can be used to describe most aspects of your team. It’s a good job, you can pay your bills, and generally enjoy coming to work every day.

But you just interviewed with the in-state Philadelphia Phillies. League dominators, more fans, more national exposure, higher-caliber players, and oh yeah, a big bump in pay. Your coaches in Steel Country are all telling you that you have a bright future there, but you don’t have to look at the last 20 years of business to realize it doesn’t compare to the past five in Philly. Of course you have potential and respect in Pittsburgh, and sure, your teammates might verbally crap on the fan base in Philly (who doesn’t, amiright?), but come on – why wouldn’t you move?

Back to reality: better clients, better pay, better opportunities, bigger network, more resources.

You can always return to Pittsburgh.

When Should a Big 4 Auditor Mention That They Are More Interested in Tax?

Today in “Help me if you can” a soon-to-be Big 4 auditor wants to know when to broach the subject of…not wanting to be a Big 4 auditor. Rather, the young grasshopper would prefer to switch to tax, pronto.

Have a question about your career, how best to decorate your cubicle or how you can show your face again after your latest embarrassment at the most recent happy hour? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll put you on the path to success or marginal respectability.

As for today:

I am starting in the audit department of a a Big 4 firm in a major market next month. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity, however I’m not too interested in audit. If I want to switch over to tax, how do I go about doing that without giving a poor impression of me? Is this a common enough request that it shouldn’t be a problem? Is it better to bring it up sooner rather than later? Do I bring it up with my recruiter before I start? I’m concerned that if I wait too long to bring this up I’ll end up wasting a year (and a promotion) before being able to switch to tax.


First of all, congrats on not opening your mouth during the recruiting process. Interviewing for an audit position but admitting that you’re really interested in tax would have been akin to handing your interviewer a 3×5 with “DON’T HIRE ME” written in your own blood. Braddock’s response to this question was, “Then why are you here for audit? Why didn’t you apply for tax?” which is valid. So if you don’t want to give a bad impression of yourself, don’t bother discussing it with the recruiter. You’re already hired, there’s no sense admitting that you pulled a fast one on them.

In a previous post, we discussed how difficult it can be to get into a Big 4 tax practice. In your case, since you’re already inside a Big 4 firm and claim to being in a “major market” the path will be a little bit easier. That being said, we’re wondering why you’re in such as rush.

The best thing you can do is hang out in audit for awhile, meet some people and see how it goes. You were hired for audit, so you might as well give it a shot and build your network within the practice before changing your career path when it hasn’t even started.

Once you’re working it won’t be long before you’ll be asked to document some of your career goals. When you’re discussing these goals with your performance counselor (or whatever they’re called these days) discuss your interest in tax but try not to make it sound like the audit practice has been the worst experience of your life (even if it has). Since you’re in a larger office, it’s likely your counselor knows someone (or knows someone who knows someone) who has done a rotation or transfer to tax. These people will be able to talk to you about their experiences: the pros, the cons, the whathaveyous. Also, because you are in a larger office, your request isn’t that unusual and the office may even hold an informational session about rotations to other practices.

Your concern about the timing is valid (i.e. waiting too long). If you complete one year in audit and you are still jonesing for tax forms, you can safely express your interest about a rotation to the tax practice If you wait too long, you are correct – you may end up wasting an additional year and possibly a promotion.

So summing up – do some time in audit and get your feet under you; you never know, you may discover that you – gasp – enjoy it. When it comes to discussing your career goals, mention your interest in tax and find other professionals who have been through the process so you have an idea about what it’s like. Good luck.

Let’s Welcome the KPMG Interns with…

…kind words from John Veihmeyer? Obviously! Bagels with schmear? This isn’t 2007. Happy hours where the booze flows like wine? TBD.


The Klynveld interns started this week (an official Tweet from the KPMG Go says there’s over 1,000 coffee go-fers this summer) and we hear they’re starting out with some stimulating training for a couple of days before they head to national training which we hear will be at a HoJo in Fargo, ND. Cutbacks, you know.

We know some of you KPMG vets will be asked to mentor these blades of grass and we’re a little curious about what the guidance has been re: coffee, lunches, booze etc. since TPTB are still squeeze all the hairs out Lincoln’s beard but still want you to convince the hot and/or smart interns that KPMG is the place they want to be.

Anyhoo, we’ll try and bestow some wisdom on this year’s crop with some key thing to remember:

1. Get things started off right and start kissing the new managers’ asses.

2. Business casual does not consist of sweat pants.

3. If we send you on a scavenger hunt, try not to make it obvious.

4. Showing up with booze on your breath isn’t allowed until you’re well into your first year as full time employee.

5. We’re out of ideas… help them out.